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Help -- I've fallen for my housemate!
May 1, 2009 4:33 PM   Subscribe

OMG-does-he-like-me-filter: help, I've fallen for my housemate! I have two requests for you, MeFites: 1) Please read my [long] story and tell me if I'm totally kidding myself about this situation; and/or 2) Tell me your own story about the time you fell for your roommate, housemate, or close friend.

Disclaimers and apologies:
• All this dancing around and should-I-shouldn't-I is annoying and embarrassing and makes me feel like I'm 13.
• I realize this post is very long.
• Apologies for posting anonymously, but my username would give me away immediately if the person in question were to read this.

So, here’s my story. I’ve slept with a friend of mine, several times now. I'm 27, he's 25. We live in the same house but separate apartments (he has roommates, I do not). We spend all of our free time together. If we weren’t sleeping together I’d say we’re very close friends, but obviously you include sex in the situation and you’re not really friends anymore.

I like this guy a lot, and if he feels the same way I would like to attempt a relationship with him, despite the obvious hurdles there would be considering that we live in the same house. The trouble is that I’m having a really hard time gauging his interest. Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I think he does have feelings for me, on some level. I worry that I'm being too cautious and self-censoring, and it comes across like I don't have feelings for him, so he's doing the same thing. Clearly I need to talk to him, and I will. But before I do, I’m interested to see what the hive mind thinks. Allow me to elaborate on the situation a bit...

When we first hooked up, I was thrilled because I really liked him. I would go upstairs and hang out with him in his apartment, uninvited, and basically follow him around like a pathetic puppy dog, which is pretty typical of me. Very soon – like after a week – he started to back off. I called him on it, and he said he liked me but he didn’t think he wanted a relationship with me. He said he needs space in a relationship, and when he doesn’t get it he starts treating his girlfriend badly, and he didn’t want to do that with me. I was very sad but I respected his position and backed off.

Eventually, things seemed to have settled and we started hanging out again. Of course we slept together again. It’s happened maybe a dozen times over the last five months, maybe more, I’ve lost count. It always takes the same pattern, over 2-4 weeks:

Flirt > flirt heavily > flirt even more heavily > spend every waking second together > sleep together (usually sober, fwiw) > spend the night in his arms > hang out the next day, pretend nothing happened, and start all over again.

Believe me, I realize how dysfunctional this is.

Every time we do sleep together, an ever-smaller part of me holds out hope that maybe this time something will actually come of it. But, because he rejected me before, I try to back off and wait for him to seek me out, and take my cues from how he acts. I always assume that he wants to avoid me, but there he is the next day, standing at my door. He’ll come downstairs and spend the whole evening with me, always of his own volition, but he’s hard to read. He’ll stand in my kitchen while I do dishes and cook dinner, and he plays with my dog, and he talks to me and tells me about his day, and when he runs out of things to say he stands around like he doesn’t want to leave; but when we move to the couch to watch TV we sit at opposite ends. There’s no physical contact at all. At the end of the night he says goodnight and goes back upstairs. This has happened so many times now that I’m kind of numb to it so it doesn’t upset me anymore, but it does make me sad.

What I can’t figure out is, does he spend all this time with me because his feelings have changed vis-à-vis the whole relationship thing, but he thinks I’m not interested because I’m not making a move? Or is he just being clueless? I mean, seriously, we spend ALL of our time together, and he seems to be doing it willingly. We are essentially a couple who sleeps together sporadically. (Christ this is so dysfunctional.) So why doesn’t he need his space now? Is it a control thing – like if I were initiating it he’d pull back, but since he initiates it he’s ok with it? If so, that’s seriously annoying.

I’ve never had many male friends, so I don’t have a good frame of reference and I may be way off base here, BUT: I feel like if he really didn’t have any feelings for me, he would avoid me like the plague after he slept with me, to avoid giving me the wrong idea. I’ve even heard him give that advice to others when his roommates and I are talking about girls and relationships and sex and all that. I know him to be a conscientious and observant person, particularly for a guy, so I’m inclined to think he’s not just being clueless. Am I totally kidding myself here? Am I reading way too much into this?

Or, perhaps he does have feelings for me but he’s conflicted due to his “space” issue. Is it worth trying to convince him that I get it, and I think we could still make it work? Usually I would say that you shouldn’t have to convince someone to want a relationship with you, but maybe this situation is the one exception to that rule. (I’m sure you guys are going to rip me apart for thinking that there are ever exceptions to the relationship commandments, several of which I know I’m trying to break here.)

Or, on the off-chance that The Hive thinks he actually might feel the same way I do... I think I’m being pretty obvious about the fact that I have real feelings for him, but that may not be the case, especially since I’m so afraid of scaring him off. Should I be more forward? Should I cuddle up with him the next time we watch TV together? Even if it’s been almost a week since we last touched each other – or would that be too out-of-the-blue?

I’m terrified of the devastating embarrassment I’d feel if I tried a move like that, and he recoiled and told me I’ve got the wrong idea, or he just froze and acted really uncomfortable. But I also know that I can’t keep on with things as they are. So either I try something like that, or I be more blunt and tell him how I feel and ask him to do the same, or I just drop the whole idea and start avoiding him as much as possible so I can get over him. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to move on if I think there’s a possibility something could happen.

MeFi, I want to hear your stories about the time you fell for your housemate or roommate or best friend, and what you did about it, and how it ended up. You can give me advice if you like, or just talk. If you think I'm being an idiot, tell me. If you think there's a chance here, tell me. Do your worst! Throwaway email: onlyindreams1234@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ask him. It's that easy. Preferably before you make another move.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:39 PM on May 1, 2009


He's using you for sex and to be a filler in his schedule when he doesn't have anything better to do. Sorry.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:43 PM on May 1, 2009 [25 favorites]


No stories, but have you tried making some long-range plans with him? Maybe not to your best friend's wedding, but to a concert out-of-town or something. Do you two ever talk about your individual plans for the future? Can you align any of these with plans for the two of you? I really think that what makes a long-term relationship last, besides the attraction, is having shared goals.

However, be prepared to find out that he just hasn't thought about this stuff much, and is with you because he doesn't not like you, and that's enough for him.
posted by zinfandel at 4:47 PM on May 1, 2009


Oh, this question makes me sad because I recognize it on so many levels in my own relationships past. I definitely think that you're at a point now where it would not be pushy to demand clarification from him. Because now, you've identified the pattern and he seems content to just keep repeating it ad infinitum. Based on the fact that you've posted here, this isn't a good solution for you.

So what do you want? A boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Will this happen? Only if you are incredibly clear about your wishes to this guy and do not continue the "sleeping with him until he pushes you away" scenario. It's hard to do! When you have a crush on someone, any attention is good attention and it's terrifying to do something that might cut off contact.

Try the closer physical contact sometime when you are watching TV together. If he recoils or does nothing (as mortifying as it may be), you have your answer. If he doesn't want to touch you or be close to you, then you sure as hell won't get him to change. But by going for it, at least you figure it out sooner rather than later.

I really hope that things work out for you. Please don't keep putting up with this unfortunate situation.
posted by amicamentis at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I sort of did this, although I waited until we weren't living together anymore to tell him how I felt. He was, at the time, my best friend. To my relief, he said he loved me too, and we wound up moving right back in together. Unfortunately, he felt that way about a lot of women, and that ended up being the worst relationship I've ever had. I saw his ugly side, and we aren't friends anymore. I feel like I should have seen it coming. If he was comfortable enough to casually sleep with a sort-of roommate with no strings attached and not worry about drama, why did I think I'd be the only one? Of course, every situation is different. This guy was a bit of a player, and I knew that. Nevertheless, the ingredients for disaster are definitely there in your case. Just be careful.

If you're serious about this, I'd outright ask your housemate how he feels. But don't turn it into a big scene. Just be like, "Hey, what do you think about us getting serious?" And if he turns you down, you shrug it off. You don't want awkwardness in your own home.
posted by katillathehun at 4:49 PM on May 1, 2009


You really need to just speak up and ask him where he stands. Might help him for you to say where you stand first. Sounds like neither of you can say anything for fear of rejection.

Don't worry about the roommate aspect yet. If things move forward you can tackle that later. For some people it works, for others it doesn't
posted by poppo at 4:50 PM on May 1, 2009


He likes hanging out with you. He likes the sex. He doesn't want the same type of relationship you seem to want. He's told you that. Meanwhile you're hanging out with him. You seem to be enjoying the sex. It's time to negotiate. You may not get exactly the type of relationship you want. He might not get exactly the type of relationship he wants but you both might get something you'll enjoy.
posted by rdr at 4:50 PM on May 1, 2009


The following advice is given with the standard caveat that I don't know you or him, and my experiences are not universal...

You mention that this situation is "dysfunctional". I don't know him, but if he's anything like most of the guys that I've known, he does not agree with your assessment of the situation. As far as he's concerned, it's probably perfectly functional.

He told you that he doesn't want a relationship and you're having sex with him anyway. In his mind, he's done everything that is required to be a decent guy. He made his feelings on the subject plain, and he has no reason to believe that you're not taking him at his word.

His being candid about not wanting a relationship suggests to me that you're involved with someone who has no (or few) problems with being forward about what he wants. What he wants, right now, is to continue having sex with you while not being in a relationship with you. The easiest way to determine this is because he has, with both his actions and his words, confirmed it for you. If he'd changed his mind he'd let you know.

He deserves for you to be at least as honest with him as he's been with you. If you're sad that you're not in a relationship, tell him. He might come around or he might not, but at least he'd be able to make a decision on the matter with the best information available, and you'd get some closure on the matter.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:53 PM on May 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


I've been there. It's chronicled here and later here. We were friends, we started to sleep together, I fell for him, and he didn't want to hurt me. So we started a relationship, with his caveat that he needed space. Fine, except he didn't really need all that much space, he needed the freedom of being able to sleep with whomever he wanted. In retrospect, it was all there and I should have known. I can see in what you wrote here that you see it as well.

But maybe I'm wrong. He may very well like you a lot, and maybe he does in fact want a relationship, but has he ever clearly indicated this? If he hasn't there is probably a reason.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 4:55 PM on May 1, 2009


What I can’t figure out is, does he spend all this time with me because his feelings have changed vis-à-vis the whole relationship thing, but he thinks I’m not interested because I’m not making a move? Or is he just being clueless? I mean, seriously, we spend ALL of our time together, and he seems to be doing it willingly. We are essentially a couple who sleeps together sporadically. (Christ this is so dysfunctional.) So why doesn’t he need his space now? Is it a control thing – like if I were initiating it he’d pull back, but since he initiates it he’s ok with it? If so, that’s seriously annoying.

He spends time with you because he likes sleeping with you. You are not a couple because he doesn't want a relationship with you. He needs his space because he wants to sleep with you without feeling obligated to do any of the emotional work of being in a relationship. Yes, it probably is a control thing--he defines the boundaries of the relationship, because he's uncomfortable with the fact that you want to be with him. Yes, it's annoying, but you need to accept that he's not going to want a relationship with you, quit sleeping with him, and move on.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:55 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Start dating someone one and wean yourself off your infatuation. Just tell yourself you're infatuated with him. Remind yourself. And maybe look for a new place to live. There's going to be a time when he brings a new woman to his apt and you're going to go insane with jealousy and hurt. So listen to him when he says he doesn't want a relationship with you and move away.
posted by anniecat at 5:07 PM on May 1, 2009


There is only ONE person who knows what this guy thinks, and it's not anyone on MeFi, it's HIM. And there is only one way to find out what he thinks, and that is to talk to him. It is that simple. Period. End of story. Talk. And don't stop talking to you get the information you need. People will jump in here with all kinds of explanations for this guy's behavior. It can't be judged from your 10 to 12 paragraphs. Only he knows and only he can tell you.
posted by spicynuts at 5:12 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh man, this reminds me so much of my 20s that it actually causes a little physical ache in my heart.

Without going into my own elaborate stories, but based on having been in many similar relationships for way too many years, I will tell you that there is a Very Likely Explanation, and a Remotely Possible Explanation.

The Very Likely Explanation is, as others have said, that he enjoys you as a friend with benefits. He likes spending time with you, he likes having sex with you, and he simultaneously has no interest in an emotionally commited relationship with you and almost certainly never will. This scenario is A) a fucking drag, and B) has about a 99% likelihood.

The Remotely Possible Explanation is that he is just as crazy about you as you are about him, but is avoiding saying anything clear about it because his fear of rejection and embarrassment is as great as yours. If you say something, you'll discover that you want to be together in a serious way and it will be awesome; if you say nothing, you'll eventually drift apart and will miss your chance and will only learn that your feelings were mutual years later when it's entirely too late to do anything about. (Yes, I'm speaking from experience on this one, too.) This scenario is A) totally dramatic and romantic, and B) has about a 1% likelihood.

The solution, in either case, is exactly the same: you have to do precisely what seems impossible and just ask him. You can hold out hope for the second scenario, but you should really be prepared for the first. (In which case, if it does turn out to be the first scenario and you don't actually want to just be his friend-with-benefits, you need to cut off the sex completely, stop hanging out with him till you're over him, and start looking for someone who, indeed, wants to date you and not just string you along. It took me years to learn that lesson and start recovering my self-esteem, so I'm hoping you'll be a little quicker at learning it than I was.)
posted by scody at 5:19 PM on May 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Dear AskMeFi: I'd like to let a guy know how I feel, but I want to avoid getting hurt, so please tell me what he really wants based on my account of what happened.

Sorry, we don't know the answer. So you'll have to ask him while fully assuming the risk of getting hurt,
posted by Ironmouth at 5:21 PM on May 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh gosh, I missed this part of your question:

he said he liked me but he didn’t think he wanted a relationship with me. He said he needs space in a relationship, and when he doesn’t get it he starts treating his girlfriend badly, and he didn’t want to do that with me.

The other lesson that took me years to learn was this: believe what people tell you about themselves. Seriously, he's telling you who he is. He's telling you what his limits are. He's telling you what you can and cannot expect from him. There's no real subtext, as much as the enjoyable times hanging out in the kitchen or having sex in his room might suggest otherwise.
posted by scody at 5:25 PM on May 1, 2009 [14 favorites]


This sentence:

He said he needs space in a relationship, and when he doesn’t get it he starts treating his girlfriend badly, and he didn’t want to do that with me.

is the telling one. It's that weird cop out thing I have heard from guys who do not want to be in a relationship. It seems to imply that he doesn't want the intimacy that you do.

My advice would be to talk to him about where you are at, back off, date other people, create your own life, be busy, and see what he does then.

But be wary of the guys who are close when you are distant, and distant when you are close. It's gamey.
posted by Vaike at 5:30 PM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


If your emotional needs aren't being met currently, then you need to seek something elsewhere. He is having his needs met and was up front about not wanting to be in relationship. That said, you are in a relationship, of sorts, and if it isn't enough for you, it is time to move on to someone who can be with you.

There is nothing wrong with casual sex and fun hanging out with no emotional baggage, but if one person feels differently and wants it to be more, it is not going to work for either of you. Even if you back him into a corner and told him you will only sleep with him if you are in a relationship, and he agreed to that, you wouldn't necessarily be on very firm ground, emotionally. If he wanted to be your boyfriend, he would be. I know that sucks and it hurts a lot, but I have been on both sides of this equation and trust me when I say that if he told you he can't treat a girlfriend well, you need to believe him.
posted by SassHat at 5:34 PM on May 1, 2009


If you can't make yourself tell him, this is a situation that "playing hard to get" may clarify. If you start acting like you don't care either way, start talking about guys you have a crush on, tell him about going on dates with them and basically make him work to get sex (don't just let him drop by, be busy unless he makes a plan in advance, all that annoying "rules" stuff), if he does come after you, he probably likes you but also probably has a serious fear of commitment. If you are willing to work very hard at that game, you could eventually snag him.

If you do that and he doesn't get jealous or pursue you more, he's not that into you.
posted by Maias at 5:38 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tell him that this friends with benefits stuff is not working for you because you're interested in something more. Express your understanding of his need for "space" and say that you don't need a 24-companion, but that for the sake of your heart, it's got to move forward or stop. Tell him that if he's not interested, it's not a big deal, you are just confused as to the state of things and would rather know that a) he wants to try a relationship or b) he's not interested in one.

There is no middle ground, ie I'd like to keep sleeping with you and then being buddies. You obviously can't handle it. So say your peace, listen to what he has to say, and act accordingly.
It might be weird, it might hurt, or it might be great. It's certainly better than not knowing, because either you will have a relationship or you will have an answer and the freedom to move forward.
posted by anniek at 5:44 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every time we do sleep together, an ever-smaller part of me holds out hope that maybe this time something will actually come of it.

And that's where I stopped reading.

Yes, you are kidding yourself. Think of ALL the times this sentence has been written or said in the loooong history of human emotion, and what good it's done. Nothing. Zippo. Nada. Do you really think you're going to be any different? Really? Seriously?

I encourage you to enjoy the fun while you want to enjoy the fun (which may be longer than you think), but it's not going to change.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:55 PM on May 1, 2009


Dear AskMeFi: I'd like to let a guy know how I feel, but I want to avoid getting hurt, so please tell me what he really wants based on my account of what happened.

Sorry, we don't know the answer. So you'll have to ask him while fully assuming the risk of getting hurt,


REPEAT THiS TO YOURSELF 500 TIMES.
posted by spicynuts at 5:58 PM on May 1, 2009


BUT: I feel like if he really didn’t have any feelings for me, he would avoid me like the plague after he slept with me, to avoid giving me the wrong idea. I’ve even heard him give that advice to others when his roommates and I are talking about girls and relationships and sex and all that. I know him to be a conscientious and observant person, particularly for a guy, so I’m inclined to think he’s not just being clueless. Am I totally kidding myself here? Am I reading way too much into this?

He's not avoiding you because then he is effectively shitting where he eats. You live in the same building. You sleep with him without asking much in return. You play the game by his rules - you back off when he needs space, you sleep with him when he wants closeness. Plus, you're fun to hang out with when you're not sleeping together. Who wouldn't be happy with this sort of arrangement? He's got it pretty good right now, I'd say, while you are twisting yourself in knots.

Look, he's not being clueless, he's being deliberate. This sort of behavior is called stringing someone along, it's common among men and women who aren't as interested in loving a person as sleeping with them, and you should cut him off sexually and dial down your friendship several notches.

Even otherwise perfectly nice people can act like callous jerks every now and again when it comes to getting their sexual needs met, particularly if it doesn't require much more effort than walking across the hall. Go out and date some guys who will make it clear in word and deed that you're involved in a romantic relationship and don't further complicate your living situation by continuing to screw around with this guy. I guarantee you you will be much happier if you do so now, because sooner or later he's going to come home with someone else and how are you going to feel about that if you've just slept with him the previous afternoon?

Or, you could enjoy this as friendship with benefits. Since that doesn't seem to be a viable option for you because you're already emotionally involved, I'd say you're choice is pretty clear.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 6:05 PM on May 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


If you can't make yourself tell him, this is a situation that "playing hard to get" may clarify. If you start acting like you don't care either way, start talking about guys you have a crush on, tell him about going on dates with them and basically make him work to get sex (don't just let him drop by, be busy unless he makes a plan in advance, all that annoying "rules" stuff), if he does come after you, he probably likes you but also probably has a serious fear of commitment.

As a guy, when someone tries to manipulate me it is a real turn-off. Such a strategy will drive off self-respecting men, while drawing in the insecure and maladjusting. Not a strategy I'd pursue.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:06 PM on May 1, 2009


If you think I'm being an idiot, tell me. If you think there's a chance here, tell me.

You're being a idiot. You should figure out what you want, then ask him for it and if he doesn't want that, you should limit contact with him and go find someone who can give you want you want.

basically follow him around like a pathetic puppy dog, which is pretty typical of me.

You should work on that, otherwise you'll probably keep falling into these patterns.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


But be wary of the [partners] who are close when you are distant, and distant when you are close.

Oh dear god yes. Like scody, much of your narrative reminds me of big chunks of my 20s that I had almost successfully blotted out of my memory. People generally don't do it on purpose, but there are LOTS of them who need "space" only when you are seeking closeness. When you gain some distance, then they hang with you every waking moment, like this guy. It's OK for you two to fuck when he's in the mood and makes the moves, but if you initiate things by cuddling up to him during TV? Well, you don't even know how he'd react because he's successfully got you in this passive, reactive, eggshell-walking mindset where making a move like that isn't the ordinary, acceptable gesture of basic affection it should be between any two friendly peers who sleep together sometimes.

Decades later, I can vividly remember spending sometimes months in that tormented, hesitant, holding-my-breath, "don't you dare make a tiny misstep and screw this up, Fellini" state of mind, and allowing yourself to act that way for one single minute is one single minute too long. Even if this person condescends to grant you the huge, huge, favor of being in a relationship with him, he'll always have one foot out the door, and you'll always feel that any little thing you do could be the last straw for someone who doesn't really want to be there anyhow. This is not to say he's not a wonderful person, but the power dynamics of this deal seem seriously skewed, so you either need to change them right now by being nicely forthright and insisting on a level playing field or show him the door.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:50 PM on May 1, 2009 [18 favorites]


There's some good advice and thoughts here. From a male perspective I'll say this: the vast majority of men are quite simple and think about things in a direct manner, that's why I think that PhoBWanKenobi has it right:

"He spends time with you because he likes sleeping with you. You are not a couple because he doesn't want a relationship with you. He needs his space because he wants to sleep with you without feeling obligated to do any of the emotional work of being in a relationship."

That's how most men think. If he can get the sex from you without having to do anything else then why not? You don't seem to mind so it's fine right? Except that you do mind and you do want something else. As scody says it's 99% sure that he's doing this because he doesn't want a relationship with you. If he did he would do something about it. Futhermore he's 25 so I would imagine that he's old enough to have has some relationships so he most likely knows what he wants.

Of course these are vast generalizations about men, but I'm a guy so I can make them. There is an upside and that is that as men grow up a bit many realise how important a great relationship with the right person can be. In the meantime don't go over thinking the male thought process. Tell him how you feel and if he doesn't want the relationship don't sleep with him again and deal with the heartbreak. It'll be better in the long-run.
posted by ob at 6:52 PM on May 1, 2009


Lying in bed, the morning after a nice night:

"So, are we just fucking? Is or is this maybe might be maybe going somewhere? 'Cause I'd go for the latter if you would... and if not, I just need to know, for once and all."
posted by kestrel251 at 7:05 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Basically, I'd let him know that if he doesn't want something real, you don't want something that seems real but isn't, and so if he wants to just be friends, that's cool, but that looks different -- more like two or three hours a week, probably scheduled in advance, and no sleeping together. Remember, the more you back off, the more he's interested, so (while you don't want to get caught up in some deliberately manipulative game) you should feel free to be quite independent and hard to get, and basically ask for what you want. I'd also tell him that you do understand his need for "space" and while you do enjoy spending time together, you're willing to work on giving him that space.
posted by salvia at 7:17 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


You are playing a dangerous game with your heart. I know you like him. In a perfect world, he'd like you back. But, you've known him for at least half a year now, and the only move he's made is one to the bedroom.

I hope you aren't scanning all the responses for even remote hints that maybe-just-maybe he likes you but is just too scared/shy/whatever. Please don't do this to yourself.

If you told him you are putting an end to all the flirting and the sleepovers, what do you think his response would be? Do you think he'd still come around? Pine for you? Never darken your doorstep again? Why not give that a try for the next half-year, and see what happens.
posted by Houstonian at 7:48 PM on May 1, 2009


I've said it before and I'll say it again: a guy wanting to have sex with you only necessarily implies that he wants to have sex with you. He may or may not want anything else, but you read more than that into it at your own peril. If a guy really wants a relationship he'll usually get around to saying so before sleeping with you over a dozen times in six months.

From his perspective, he's got a girl who likes him, will sleep with him, and doesn't sleep with anyone else, while requiring no commitments from him, emotional or otherwise. I believe the technical term for this is "using you".

You need to clarify your situation one way or the other, because 1) there's always the outside shot that he wants more, but I wouldn't bet on it, and 2) if he doesn't, this the only way you're going to be able to get past this anyways.

Seriously, there is exactly one person who can give you the straight dope on his intentions here,* and he isn't random anonymous people on the internet. I think in addition to DTMFA, AskMe needs ATMFA, Ask The Mother-F*cker Already.

*Note that just because he can doesn't mean he will, but at least he's theoretically capable of doing so, which is more than anyone here can say.
posted by valkyryn at 7:59 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I had this exact situation with a housemate turned best friend. We were attached at the hip for 3 years, slept together every couple of months, and always, always the next day it was like nothing happened. I can't tell you how many nights we stayed up super late talking, laughing, drinking, playing music - just waiting for the other to make a move. Usually neither of us did.

I fell for him and would hang out super late, hoping to sleep with him, and maybe this time he'd be my boyfriend. But he didn't want to be my boyfriend. He stayed up late hoping to sleep with me - and that's all. This only became clear to me in hindsight because he seemed to have real feelings for me. We got along extremely well, he liked spending time with me, and he even cared about me. But I just couldn't see that he didn't liiiiike me.

That is until he found someone he actually wanted to date. They're getting married in November. We don't live together anymore and honestly, we're not close friends anymore either. It's kind of a sad end to our friendship, but it was necessary for me to move on.

If I had admitted to myself what was happening (and had the balls), I would have asked him flat out if he'd ever want to date me and when he said no, I'd start making my exit strategy.
posted by jenmakes at 8:39 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Go out on dates with other people.

You'll get your answer pretty quickly.
posted by felix betachat at 8:42 PM on May 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Tell me your own story about the time you fell for your roommate

You asked.

I rented a house in Long Island, plus a big artist's loft in downtown NYC. At that time I spent most of my time in L.I. So I sublet one beautiful room with giant window to my best friend's fiance's best friend. She was a writer. I wasn't around, so I had some else show her the room. After she rented it, I imagined her needing her creative space in this bohemian paradise, so I decided not to interfere with her at all, and in fact avoided meeting her for two years. She slipped the rent under my door. My room had a little peep hole in the door to the hall way, and I observed that she was a very attractive woman. All the more reason not to distract her or myself -- creative privacy.

After two years she slipped a note under my door that she was moving out. Finally I felt it was OK to introduce myself. I informed her that there was an immense outstanding electric bill, and I would be happy to discuss it with her over dinner. At that dinner I forgave the electric bill, and we began a 6 year relationship, I guess you could say we were engaged. It wasn't to be in the end, but it was a very significant relationship in my life.

YMMV.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:53 PM on May 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I fell in love with my female roommate... I should've known better, given the crush I had on her in high school.

She wasn't interested.

So, I kicked her out of the apartment.

I still feel like shit. But, it was probably the right move, just poorly executed.
posted by Netzapper at 3:01 AM on May 2, 2009


seconding what brandon blatcher said so succinctly.

I think most people have a housemate story to tell, but I think the underlying problem is more generic than that, and has to do with your not being the 'decider', not taking control when finding yourself in the middle of (what you think are) unfulfilled possibilities or mixed signals.

Well, having followed chics around and having waited around "pathetically" for quite a while in my youth, I finally took control of my life and became the decider in these situations, it was much, much better that way for all involved and especially for myself, and so now I go around advising others to do the same. :)
posted by jak68 at 3:38 AM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been there, so much of it. It was so horrible, & it was horrible because it made me question myself -- if I just did X or Y, maybe instead of sleeping together sporadically (but, like, you, spending every free minute together) we'd actually legitimize our relationship. It was the most awful feeling in the world, & what made it even more awful was when I got to the point where I knew it wasn't going to work but I didn't really know where to go without him because as screwed up as it was, there was just a huge emotional (& time) investment there &, you know, I loved him.

I think relationship clichés are clichés for a reason -- if he wanted to be with you in a more conventional way, he would. I told myself the same things you told yourself -- maybe he's holding back because I'M holding back, blah blah blah -- but as it turned out, a month after he acknowledged out loud to someone else that we were dating (for the first time in two years, for the record, which shocked the hell out of me since I never thought we were dating), he started sleeping with another girl, moved her halfway across the country to marry him, & told me via email that "the only thing missing from our relationship was love from [him]." OUCH.

The really screwed up thing is that even though I knew this was majorly messed up, I probably would've waited for him to come out of it on the other end -- I'd done it before, after all, because that's what he always does & I've known him long enough to know his patterns (I was the one great exception because we were friends first) -- but I wound up dragging myself out on a date with a friend one night just to help get him off my mind & crazily enough, it worked. (Side note: I am now married to the dude I went out with that night.)

What does this mean for you? If you were my friend or my sister, I'd tell you my tale of woe & then tell you that you can't expect people to read minds. Talk to him -- even rejection would be better than just not knowing, as awful as it can feel -- & then whatever happens, don't just let yourself stick around in limbo. I don't regret any of my relationship with my friend, friendship or otherwise -- I just wish it had maybe been more condensed. I spent way too much time overanalyzing a situation where the answer was pretty clear because I really just wanted it to be something else.
posted by oh really at 6:29 AM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


he said he liked me but he didn’t think he wanted a relationship with me. He said he needs space in a relationship, and when he doesn’t get it he starts treating his girlfriend badly, and he didn’t want to do that with me.

Hmm, that's a red flag. If he'd said if he doesn't get space, he starts to get freaked out, or he withdraws, or something like that, it would be fine. However, he said that when he doesn't get the space he wants, he starts to treat his girlfriend badly, which sounds like an undesirable trait.
posted by fructose at 7:06 AM on May 2, 2009


Go for it. Tell him you want to date. Better to take a risk, and have a relationship you want.
posted by theora55 at 7:21 AM on May 2, 2009


BTW, there is a good chance that he doesn't think he's using you. OK so you did sort of mention something at some point, but seeing as you've allowed this behavior then you've most likely come around. He probably thinks that you're in the same mindset as he is, so no harm no foul. For your own good you need to disabuse him of this notion.
posted by ob at 10:00 AM on May 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


BTW, there is a good chance that he doesn't think he's using you.

Yes. He probably thinks that you are enjoying this awesome good-friends-with-sex-benefits thing, and would be astonished to hear that you are hoping for anything different. And he's not an idiot to think this--your behavior, as you describe it here, is certainly consistent with that interpretation.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean that he's secretly hoping for you to be his girlfriend and is afraid to bring it up.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:23 AM on May 2, 2009


Fell into infatuation with my former roommate. Moved in with him when he needed help, just being a good friend. Most of our friendship did not involve us sleeping together, it was something that happened. Lost my virginity to him, he had a girlfriend. He fucked other girls... I spent some time wanting something I never would get. He made it pretty clear our situation was not going to evolve into a real relationship. It hurt, but eventually I found a boyfriend who could devote himself to me.

Straight up, you need to clarify the situation. You will only know by asking him. And if he doesn't want to be with you, trust me-- you will find someone who will make you happy.
posted by faintly macabre at 6:56 PM on May 13, 2009


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